A Rich Food Heritage – and a History that Stretches back over a millennium
The Attyflin Estate near Patrickswell, Co. Limerick is set on over 250 acres and boasts a rich food production heritage and a colourful history that stretches back over a millennium.
The Estate has perhaps been best known through the centuries for its historic associations with prominent Irish and Ango-Irish family dynasties such as the O’Briens and Westropps.
The name ‘Attyflin’, as directly linked to the House and Estate, originates from the mid 16th century. In 1540, one of the O’Briens (Flann) is reputed to have had a residence and castle at the site, giving rise to the name Attyflin – in Irish ‘Ait Ti Flainn’, or ‘the site of Flann’s house’.
Attyflin has a proud record in agri-business for well over 500 years. Quality fruit, vegetables, cereal, beef and lamb were produced on the Estate by various proprietors over that period.
Purchased in 2002 by the O’Connell family, Attyflin Estate today is poised to enter a new, and exciting, phase of development. Post motorway in 2002 over 40,000 hardwood trees were planted, which will slowly return the Estate to its former glory.
The History of Attyflin
The name ‘Attyflin’, as directly linked to the House and Estate of that name, originates from the mid 16th century. In 1540, one of the O’Briens, Flann, is reputed to have a residence and castle at the site, giving rise to the name Attyflin – in Irish ‘Ait Ti Flainn’, or ‘the site of Flann’s house’.
Attyflin has a proud record in agri-business for well over 500 years. Quality fruit, vegetables, cereal, beef and lamb were produced on the Estate by various proprietors over that period and would have employed c. 30/45 people at a given time.
For many years, the Estate has perhaps been best known for its historic associations with prominent Irish and Ango-Irish family dynasties such as the O’Briens and Westropps.
Attyflin and the surrounding barony of Pubblebrien (derived from the O’Brien chieftaincy) have a long tradition of agricultural and food production. Records indicate the land in the area was tilled prior to the English plantations of the 1600s.
Detailed records and maps made by the cartographer, John O’Donovan in 1840 also point to the Attyflin Estate being a hive of activity in this regard.
Having been informed by the then proprietor, John Westropp, O’Donovan described the Estate and House in the following manner:
“Attyflin House… a commodious house newly roofed in 1817, there is a good set of offices, a Garden, a well-planted Demesne…”
He characterised the soil as being very fine grained clay and said that the main crops harvested were wheat, oats, barley and potatoes.
The extent of the out offices and courtyards at Attyflin mapped by O’Donovan at that time reflect a high level of farming and food production. These buildings, used to service animals and crops on the estate, correspond very closely to what remains today at Attyflin.
In 1840, the Attyflin Estate extended to 440 statute acres and 16 sq perches.
The two courtyards which still lie largely intact adjacent to the impressive Attyflin House to-day are testament to the agri-business and food capabilities of the estate over the years.
Built prior to 1840, they consist of a series of outbuildings that housed:
- Animals kept on the farm (cows, pigs and sheep were kept at Attyflin).
- A Granary with sophisticated grain storage systems for its time.
- Equine stables, again with sophisticated furnishings, feed and ventilation systems for the period, which housed the horses used for the farm work and for domestic purposes.
- A carriage building where the two Attyflin carriages were kept, which included a boiler-connected central heating system to keep the carriages in trim condition.
- A forge where the blacksmith took care of all estate equine husbandry needs.
- Successive generations of the Anglo-Irish Westropp family, who first came to Attyflin in 1703, continued to farm the estate until its sale in 1945 to Brigadier A.G. Hewson.
Food production was to feature prominently also in the time of Brigadier Hewson’s ownership. The proprietor developed a market garden on the estate and sold fruit and vegetable at the famous Limerick Milk Market. The Brigadier was also a prominent producer of beef and lamb.
When sold by Brigadier Hewson in 1978 to the Howard family, the sale advertisement for the property mentioned that the 335 acres were of mostly top-quality land and that the estate also included a stable yard and extensive farmyard.
The Howard family continued on the great food tradition by opening a high-quality restaurant and bar at Attyflin House. Regarded as one of the leading restaurants in Munster for many years, Attyflin House welcomed many leading dignitaries, including the British Ambassador to Ireland who dined there during the mid-1980s.
And now the O’Connell family, owners since 2002, are building on all this great agri-business and food production heritage to take Attyflin Estate onto an even higher level.